Just like the latest trends of the season, certain issues always seem to peak and trough in the fashion industry. There are the new stories that arise, such as the celebration of the transgender community who are helping to portray the industry as open-minded and creative, but there are also the issues that after rearing their ugly heads, circulate time and again due to a lack of acceptance.
One example that has gained a lot of publicity in the past week, is the ignorance shown by designers and makeup artists regarding the use of models from a variety of races and ethnicities. Nykhor Paul, who has walked for big names such as Calvin Klein and Balenciaga, took to Instagram this week to vent her frustration at the racism she endures while in the makeup chair. Her post can be read below:
“Dear white people in the fashion world! Please don’t take this the wrong way but it’s time you people get your shit right when it comes to our complexion! Why do I have to bring my own makeup to a professional show when all the other white girls don’t have to do anything but show up wtf! Don’t try to make me feel bad because I am blue black its 2015 go to Mac, Bobbi Brown, Makeup forever, Iman cosmetic, black opal, even Lancôme and Clinique carried them plus so much more. there’s so much options our there for dark skin tones today. A good makeup artist would come prepare and do there research before coming to work because often time you know what to expect especially at a show! Stop apologizing it’s insulting and disrespectful to me and my race it doesn’t help, seriously! Make an effort at least! That goes for NYC, London, Milan, Paris and Cape Town plus everywhere else that have issues with black skin tones. Just because you only book a few of us doesn’t mean you have the right to make us look ratchet. I’m tired of complaining about not getting book as a black model and I’m definitely super tired of apologizing for my blackness!!!! Fashion is art, art is never racist it should be inclusive of all not only white people, shit we started fashion in Africa and you modernize and copy it! Why can’t we be part of fashion fully and equally?”
Personally, I feel this is a very real issue that needs to be addressed. Why should certain models be treated differently because of their skin colour? Surely this should be an industry where change should be embraced and leading forces should be open minded?
Jourdan Dunn, the first black model to walk for Prada in a decade, also recently spoke out about the ignorance of makeup artists, accusing them of acting unprofessionally and refusing to do her makeup for shows because they were unfamiliar with applying makeup to black skin. As a makeup artist, it is your job to know how to work with all skin tones. If you don’t know how, you’re lazy and you perhaps shouldn’t be in an industry where you will be faced with models of all ethnicities.
Not that my experiences working as a Caucasian model are anything compared with the prejudice these girls face, but I have been asked on a number of occasions, due to my very fair complexion, to bring my own foundation colour with me or I will usually have a shade applied that is far too dark. As Nykhor stated, MANY makeup brands carry a variety of foundation shades so yes, I do think it unprofessional to ask me to bring my own or to have to put up with an orange face for a whole shoot. It’s not rocket science people! It goes a little something like MAC NC15. There, I’ve even done the maths for you.
Naomi Campbell, a model who has been in fashion since the 80s sat down this week to speak to photographer Nick Knight about ‘territorialism’ in the industry. Naomi refuses to acknowledge the word ‘racism’ and believes that designers may not even be aware they haven’t featured an ethnic model for several seasons. She says it is important to remind fashion figure heads this, stating that she will not stop talking about the issue until she sees a significant change.
Another interesting point she brings up, is that she does not want younger models such as Jourdan, Malika Firth and Chanel Iman to risk losing jobs over their direct viewpoints aimed at the industry – she sees herself and older models such as Iman responsible for causing controversy on their behalf.
People can say what they like about Naomi, but she is an extremely strong individual who has done a lot of good for the industry so far and it’s great to see her speaking for the younger models who don’t have such a big influence. It seems she believes a tactful, yet strong approach is necessary to tackle this problem and is not aiming to ruffle feathers, she just wants to change the way the industry thinks.
One designer I do applaud is Olivier Rousteing, creative director for Balmain. He always used a really diverse selection of models and celebrities in campaigns and on the catwalk, such as Rihanna and Cindy Bruna. Hopefully other designers and brands will soon follow suit and realise the benefits of projecting an ethnically diverse image.
What do you think is the biggest issue in fashion right now? Feel free to discuss by commenting below.
Video via SHOWstudio youtube channel